Tom Clarke reports as Mariners cause a cup upset on the Welsh border…
Marine progressed to the First Round Proper of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in 25 years on Saturday afternoon, as Neil Young returned to his old stomping ground to beat higher league opposition in Chester.
The teams had to play the fixture without the presence of fans due to current restrictions, with matters confused by the fact that part of the Deva Stadium lies in England and part in Wales.
Marine combined their black and gold home shirt with their blue away shorts as the Seals played in their traditional blue and white colours.
The first half was a tense affair with chances at a premium, as Chester looked to play out from the back while the Mariners pressed well to prevent their hosts from causing any damage.
Marine’s first chance came through Neil Kengni, who got the ball under control on the edge of the box after James Barrigan’s through ball had home captain George Glendon in a tangle, but the forward’s shot was over the crossbar.
In-form Mo Touray had a similar effort not long after, when the Welsh under-21 international drove forward before unleashing a shot from 20 yards which flew over both the crossbar and potentially his nation’s border.
Danny Elliott was lively up front for the hosts, and nodded a chance narrowly over the bar from a Joel Taylor cross midway through the opening period.
Chester pushed on in the second half, as Elliott forced Bayleigh Passant into a smart save low down shortly after the break.
Josh Solomon-Davies put in an outstanding defensive display all afternoon, and it was his challenge which prevented Elliott from opening the scoring after a weaving run forward from Declan Weeks. As Elliott drove at goal, Solomon-Davies slid in to guide the ball away from it before John Johnston picked the ball up on the right of the penalty box, squared it back across for Elliott whose effort struck the underside of the bar only to be pulled back for offside anyway.
With ten minutes to go, Marine won a throw-in on the left of the Chester box. James Joyce took it, played a one-two with Josh Hmami before sending it into the box towards Touray. The striker was marked by Danny Livesey, who in his attempts to wrestle with Touray handled the ball, prompting referee Ed Duckworth to point to the spot and give the Mariners the chance to edge ahead in the closing stages.
James Barrigan bravely stepped up and fired the ball straight down the middle to send the Marine players and officials into ecstasy.
Neil Young brought on a couple of defensive-minded players in James Devine and Kenny Strickland as his side looked to see out the historic win, with Chester pushing hard in search of an equaliser.
They thought they had one in the final minutes as Livesey seemed to have made up for his error when heading past Passant and into the Marine net, only for the home celebrations to be halted by an offside flag.
There were further nervy moments for the Mariners in the last moments of the game, Chester heading one effort narrowly over the bar and hitting another into the side netting.
However, after surviving five minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle sent Marine players into a frenzy as they secured their place in the First Round Proper.
Marine’s celebrations must quickly turn to preparations for Tuesday evening though, when they host Pickering Town in a league match at the MTA. Tickets can be bought via the following link:
Chester: Louis Gray, Kevin Roberts, Joel Taylor, Declan Weeks, Danny Livesey, Simon Grand, John Johnston (George Waring, 64), George Glendon, Danny Elliott (Lloyd Marsh-Hughes, 79), Brad Bauress, Brad Jackson (Anthony Dudley, 78).
Unused subs: Jamie Morgan, Gary Roberts, Matty Hughes, Luke Clark.
Marine: Bayleigh Passant, Josh Solomon-Davies, James Joyce, Alex Doyle, Anthony Miley, David Raven, Mikey Howard (Kenny Strickland, 89), Josh Hmami (James Devine, 84), Neil Kengni, Mo Touray (Niall Cummins, 90), James Barrigan.
Unused subs: Adam Hughes, Germano Mendes, Ryan Wignall.
Goals: James Barrigan (81′ pen).
Referee: Ed Duckworth. Assistant referees: Callum Jones, Mark Ryder. Fourth official: Gareth Edwards.
— Marine Football Club (@MarineAFC) October 24, 2020